Friday, November 25, 2011

Wild Game Dinner

My reward for working at the local farmers market for my neighbor, was a ticket to the 56th annual Wild Game Dinner that was held a few towns over from me.

Five of us very hungry farmers ventured to this well known and well advertised town tradition for the very first time.

The lines of people came down the steps, down the sidewalk and around the corner.

There was reserved seating for every hour from 4 pm- 8pm.

A thousand tickets had been sold.

There were 200 volunteers making this big event run smoothly.

Within 20 minutes of us arriving, our part of the line got into the huge church where all you could smell was food being grilled and all you could hear was the dixieland band of Strawberry Jam playing great tunes.

Our ticket numbers were called and we went downstairs to the big room under the church where hundreds of people were serving, sitting, eating and exclaiming how great the food was.

We got a real plate as soon as we came thru the door.

As I pushed my plate along the long counter top, many volunteers placed portions of hot food on my plate.   I noticed the military precision and all the men doing the cooking in the church kitchen.

I got samples of everything ON the menu plus a few items that were NOT on the menu.....such as rabbit pot pie. bear chilli, rabbit liver pate, duck sausage, varieties of gravies, stews, etc.

The line moved fast as people were eager to get a seat and eat!

All the meat was coded with various color toothpicks. At the end of the food line you were handed a cheat sheet that explained what you were eating.

My farmer friend, who got me the ticket, raised the emu on the menu.   He got alot of compliments on it that night.     It was melt-in-your-mouth perfect!

My plate was filled fast and I headed to the table, barely able to juggle the plate, camera, and smell all the delicious smells in the air around us.

People who sat at our table came from Ohio with all their relatives.  Its their family tradition for 30 years now.     Similar stories were heard during the evenings festivities.    People may move out of Vermont but they all come back to this particular wild game supper.   I can undertand why now.

What a production!

  Our waitress says it takes a year of planning to bring it all together.  Remember that it takes 200 volunteers to make it run. Most of it is crowd control outside and cooking and serving food plus going around pouring fresh apple cider, hot coffee and milk ( I drank almost a gallon ).  There are a dozen dish washers, table cleaners, table setters and spice cake makers.  The details are everywhere.

All the meat was local except for the buffalo. It was shipped from out West.

There were also an army of cooks in the parking lot grilling wild boar sausage and venison.

Another group of cooks were just making gravies of every kind imaginable.

My group put the cheat sheet away and tried to guess what each meat was.

It was a really great time.   The food was grilled to perfection PLUS there was all you could eat mashed potatoes, squash, home made baked bread and spice cake with real whipped cream. Every thing was from local farms from within FIVE miles away!!!

We suddenly realized that were eating much of the same items that the pilgrims, and the early settlers in this area, ate when they first arrived: A variety of wild game that came from within a 5 mile area.

Flavorful, colorful and filling.   The bear chilli is in the round cup.

Here is the short menu.  Doesn't include all the other "off menu" items......

If you ever get a chance to go to one of these, GO!!

Bring your appetite and a good group of friends and family.

It is a once in a lifetime experience.


Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thankful to have family and friends around me today.

Its a really good day to take inventory of ones own life.

This entire week I have tried hard to contact all the good people in my life.

Life is so short and it is important to stay in touch with those who really matter.

Thank you to all my blog friends, home pals, garden gals, cow lovers, dog women, rural farmers, disaster teams, church folks and village librarians who leave great messages in the comments section, send funny emails, gift me with cherished heritage seeds, tolerate my humorous stories and share their lives with me.

Its all greatly appreciated.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Early Cactus

My Christmas cactus has bloomed a whole month early this year.

Was it influenced by WalMart (they started playing Christmas music on OCTOBER 30th!)


Global warming ?

Are your cactus blooming ?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cheese Head

My monthly Garden Club meeting turned into a cheesemaking class.

Better yet, the cheese class was held at a house that is made out of straw.

The tour and information of how the 1000 square foot house was built and how everything in the house is recyclable and "green" was fasinating.

The frame of the house is a peg and beam frame from an old 1852 farmhouse that was being torn down.

Most interesting was that the home owners use a very simple composting toilet, that they use to fertilize their garden.   Of course everyone at the meeting wanted to know all the poop on this.  More about this later.

The cheese we learned to make is Queso Blanco ( Spanish for "white cheese.")

It is a tasty, incredibly useful soft cheese that is very very simple to make.  You can use goat or cows milk, raw or pasturized.  It still comes out great and yummy!


In a double boiler, over a direct source of heat warm 1 gallon of milk to 190-194 degrees F, stirring often to keep it from scorching.  Stir in the 1/2 cup of vinegar, remove the milk from the heat source and allow it to stand undisturbed for 10 minutes.
After the 10 minutes, stir the entire pot of cheese while it is still hot so the cheese proteins won't rebond and turn into a big ball of cheese.
Pour off the whey and save it to feed it to your hens and pigs or add it to your next bread recipe.  

This is what the curds look like after most of the whey is drained off.

Some people then put this pot full of curds into cheesecloth to drain
(But we did not.)

At this point you can decide how wet you want the curds.

You can press the rest of the whey out with a wooden spoon and eat it as it is, like this.

Salt is standard and it preserves the cheese longer. Garlic and dill are nice too.

We ate a great deal of the loose curds in the bowl and then we put the rest of the curds into a strainer and patted it down to get even more whey out.

When the strainer was turned over, the cheese popped out perfectly molded into a nice shape.

Beautiful and very tasty.

Great in salads, lasagna, enchilladas, everything!!

( I put some on eggs tonight)

Takes a total of 15 minutes to make.     Even I can do it and I am a legendary disaster in the kitchen.

All you really need is a special cheese or dairy thermometer.

Don't use aluminum containers to heat milk.   Use stainless steel.

For more info and another simiar recipe:

As we ate cheese and other pot luck snacks that we had all brought, I picked up 2 books that were on the couch and started reading.

Both books have incredible infomation in them and I just could not put them down!!

My librarian is going to order them for our village libary and I am going to read them from cover to cover.

So many things to learn!!

Anyone using a composting toilet ?  How is it working for you?  Any suggestions or tips ?

What made you decide to make the switch ?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hay Heads

Winter has officially started for us farmers that have run out of grazing fields.

The cows have meandered up to the barnyard from the fields and it is time to start feeding hay.

The herd had fun destroying 2 old bales that have been sitting out for a couple of months.   

The cows flung the hay all over each other.

Like a bunch of little kids throwing birthday cake in a wild celebration.

As they grazed around the barnyard they also got burdock entwined in their heads and ears.

Which made them look like they were indeed at a wild party.

I have never figured out why they prefer old hay to new hay.

or why they have such fun destroying the first few bales of the season.

Is it just my cows that do this or do your cows do the same thing ?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Persistant Gardner

Winter is banging on my door and I just can't stop growing stuff.   I can not give up.

My brussell sprouts are going strong.  Had a bunch for supper tonight.

My brussel sprout tree looks like a Charlie Brown christmas tree.  Maybe I will put some lights on it next month.

I planted lettuce, indoors, tonight.      I love fresh salad in the winter.

Soon I will be growing sprouts for salads too.

I also have a "secret garden" in my garage.    My geraniums are growing great in the sunlight and my sunflower heads are drying out and getting ready to be winter feed for the birds that visit my porch for seeds and suet.  There are 50 heads in variuos stages of drying.

It is hard to give in to winter.   

Are you growing anything ?


Monday, November 7, 2011

Weaning Time

The spring born calves are almost as large as their moms.  They have gained all their weight on milk and meadow....and a few boxes of cinnamon covered graham crackers.

The grass will run out in the next several weeks.  Snow will be here soon and it will get deep quickly.

Its time to wean the calves and find buyers for "the kids."

They are ready to go to their new homes and continue growing.

The heifers will be breeding stock for new grass fed beef producers.

The steers will be going to a "cooler environment" next September after one more lush summer of grass, grass and more grass. 

So, if you are looking for some calm cows to bring home and begin your future with productive livestock, you might want to come meet this herd.  We love visitors.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Neighbor's Scottish Cows

Since there are many Scottish Highland cattle admirers here, I am posting some photos I took recently ( the day before the snow) of the neighbors herd.

This herd eats hay most of the year since they do not have fields to graze. ( I always tell my cows how lucky they are to be on pasture !)

Since the landscape of Vermont is very similar to Scotland, these animals do really well here.

In fact, Scottish immigrants settled some of the towns in this area and some brought their animals with them.     The southern half of one town was purchased in 1773 by two agents for the Scotch American Company of Farmers from Renfrew and Lanark, Scotland, whose members began settlement in 1774.

I enjoy looking at all the colors of the herd.

The damage these big horned animals do to the hay racks always has me wondering how the owner affords to constantly replace them.

This nice looking blonde cow was curious and came over to visit......

and give me the "hairy" eyeball......

All the corn on all the area farms have been chopped and put in silos and bunkers for the long winter ahead.      With the tall corn gone it really opens up the landscape to other views.....  Like white horses and red barns.

I am fortunate to live amongst hundreds of farms and thousands of acres of rural lands.

There is always something to see.


Hope you are all keeping your eyes out looking for the "Ag" in your own areas.